Audiophile: Vinyl, November 2021

hfnalbum.pngPaul Simon
Still Crazy After All These Years
Mobile Fidelity UD1S 2-014 (One-Step two 45rpm Supervinyl LPs)

Back in 1975 when first released, Simon's fourth album sans Garfunkel proved an immediate favourite with the hi-fi crowd thanks to sound quality at an exceptional level. What could the One-Step process add to it? Standard pressings were excellent, but this lowers the noise floor so much that even open-reel fetishists have to sit up and take notice. The detail retrieval is breathtaking, the utter naturalness of the vocals transcendent. If you adored the SACD [HFN Sep '21], as did I, this will render you near-delirious, especially the reach of the bottom octaves. The title track, 'My Little Town', '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover' as you have never heard it before… A masterpiece made even more majestic. KK


William Bell
The Soul Of A Bell
Speakers Corner STAX S719 (180g vinyl)

No debate allowed: this 1967 release remains one of the greatest soul LPs ever, and it was a debut to boot. Bell – now 81 – began as an in-house songwriter at Stax, then signed as its first solo male performer, yet he remains underappreciated. Why? His original take of his composition 'You Don't Miss Your Water' (covered by no less than The Byrds, Otis, Taj Mahal, and Jerry Lee Lewis) is a classic to rank with 'Stand By Me'. The rest isn't far behind: the original version of 'Do Right Woman, Do Right Man', later a hit for Aretha, 'I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)', a take of 'Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye' to rival The Casinos' smash. Just buy it. KK


Jim Messina & His Jesters
The Dragsters
Sundazed LP5556 (180g blue vinyl; mono)

If you know Messina via The Buffalo Springfield or as half of a duo with Kenny Loggins, neither prepares you for this: unadulterated, circa-1964, surfing 'n' hot-rods, guitar-driven instrumentals of the Dick Dale/Surfaris sort, Messina proving to be a Fender Strat-wielding teen prodigy. But there's a twist: the sleeve notes contain the sort of recording info you'd expect of a hard-core golden-era audiophile label, eg, cutting info, frequency response and the rest. It turns out that this was originally on the Audio Fidelity label, which means the calibre of sound – even in mono – of which a modern recordist can only dream. But you gotta love surf instrumentals. KK


Suitcase Sam
Goodnight Riverdale Park
Curve Music 8 03057 04302

Issued in Canada in 2019 but just finding UK release, this is one of those unexpected delights if you are 1) a roots music fetishist, 2) not averse to vocals which sound like yodelling even when it's not, and 3) in love with twangy guitars. Suitcase Sam channels everyone from Doug Kershaw to Leon Redbone to Ry Cooder, sprinkling the lot with a good-timey feel that recalls The Band (in upbeat mood). In fact this is such a throwback to the honky-tonk memes of the 1930s-1950s that you'd be forgiven for thinking it's actually stuff missed by Harry Smith. And read the small print: it proudly proclaims all-analogue origins. A little gem if 'Yee-hah!' is in your vocabulary. KK